For sick endangered sea turtles, it helps to wind up in the hands of caregivers at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, which last week released nine young Kemp’s ridleys at Canaveral National Seashore in New Smyrna.
The turtles arrived at Mote in November after stranding during an extreme cold snap in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Although cold-blooded, the animals were unable to regulate their body temperatures, Mote said, causing lethargy and susceptibility to predators and boat strikes. Several were covered in algae.
Since Nov. 21, Mote has received three separate groups of cold-stunned turtles totaling more than 20.
Over 900 turtles were sickened by the bad weather before a network of volunteers, state and federal agencies, and nonprofits partnered to relocate the animals to various rehab facilities across the U.S., including Mote's Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital in Sarasota.
Because the turtles originally stranded in the Atlantic Ocean, Mote's team on Jan. 4 transported the turtles across the state for release on the east coast.
As is the custom at Mote, the turtles were nicknamed Art, Canaan, Douglas, Fraser, Noble, Linus, Peppermint Patty, Schroeder, and Charlie Brown.
For more about the patients – and others remaining in Mote's care − visit mote.org/hospital. The third group of cold-stunned turtles that arrived at Mote on Dec. 22 remain in critical condition.
Kemp's ridley sea turtles are considered endangered by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
The sea turtle nesting season in Florida begins May 1 and runs through October.
Photo provided by Mote
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